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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Harmony of the Gospels (Augustine) > Book II, Chapter 48

The Harmony of the Gospels, Book II

Chapter 48. Of the Absence of Any Discrepancy Between Matthew and Mark on the One Hand, and John on the Other, in the Accounts Which the Three Give Together of What Took Place After the Other Side of the Lake Was Reached.

102. Matthew proceeds as follows: And when they had gone over, they came into the land of Genesar. And when the men of that place had knowledge of Him, they sent out unto all that country round about, and brought unto Him all that were diseased, and besought Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole. Then came to Him scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem, saying, Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread, and so on, down to the words, But to eat with unwashen hands defiles not a man. This is also related by Mark, in a way which precludes the raising of any question about discrepancies. For anything expressed here by the one in a form differing from that used by the other, involves at least no departure from identity in sense. John, on the other hand, fixing his attention, as his wont is, upon the Lord's discourses, passes on from the notice of the ship, which the Lord reached by walking upon the waters, to what took place after they disembarked upon the land, and mentions that He took occasion from the eating of the bread to deliver many lessons, dealing pre-eminently with divine things. After this address, too, his narrative is again borne on to one subject after another, in a sublime strain. At the same time, this transition which he thus makes to different themes does not involve any real want of harmony, although he exhibits certain divergencies from these others, with the order of events presented by the rest of the evangelists. For what is there to hinder us from supposing at once that those persons, whose story is given by Matthew and Mark, were healed by the Lord, and that He delivered this discourse which John recounts to the people who followed Him across the sea? Such a supposition is made all the more reasonable by the fact that Capharnaum, to which place they are said, according to John, to have crossed, is near the lake of Genesar; and that, again, is the district into which they came, according to Matthew, on landing.

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Source. Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1602248.htm>.

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